It is widely believed that by its very nature marketing isn’t authentic. But in today’s digital arena, with a much more shrewd and informed consumer, this is beginning to change.
Even Facebook has shown a trend toward ‘social purpose’, which studies revealed is the leading divider for 53% of consumers when quality and price are equal. Facebook is focusing on favouring content that allows users to make deeper connections. In some cases, the only way businesses are getting their message across is if users share it and to achieve that they’re going to have to be genuine and authentic.
So what is authenticity?
There are three simple ingredients that makeup authenticity – staying true to who you are, what you do and who you serve. Using this foundation allows you to build your business on human elements which creates value for your customers and in turn improves your business.
Authenticity works because it:-
– stands you apart from your competition as reliable and trustworthy
– enables people to relate to your business and understand how what you offer helps them
– assures people that what you offer is of high quality
– encourages engagement and can turn audiences into advocates
The Road to Authenticity
There are a number of practical ways you can develop your authenticity simply and effectively.
1. Be Real
By sharing your passions and your mission and getting back to the basics of who you are and what drives you. The best way to be perceived as authentic is to BE authentic. Apply your core values, goals and beliefs at the heart of how you approach every aspect of your business.
2. Talk the talk and Walk the walk
Those who can talk a good game but cannot back themselves up or effectively deliver on their promises earn a bad reputation and people learn not to listen to them.
Today’s consumers are likely to see through the talk to the lack of substance beneath. Authenticity goes hand in hand with transparency. To avoid embarrassment never make claims you can’t prove, give evidence where you can and stay true to your core mission and values.
3. Show Consistency
Inconsistency and giving mixed messages lead to suspicion and mistrust. Some businesses make the common mistake of acting and operating in a completely different way offline and online, or across different social platforms. Whilst it is important to tailor your approach to a specific platform the core message should remain the same to ensure you convey your business as self-assured and trustworthy.
4. Be Accountable
If you make a mistake, be professional enough to admit it. Own up and apologise before anyone else has the chance to publicly make a harsh judgment that could damage your reputation further. Handled correctly, honesty often defuses a potentially harmful situation and can turn an antagonist into an advocate. You can read more about Crisis Management here.
5. Be easily contactable
Provide consumers with multiple ways to contact you, and ensure that you can respond promptly, politely and effectively. And ensure responses are from people and not an autoresponder.
This shows that you value customer service and will follow through on your promises. This goes a long way to build a solid and authentic reputation.
Every time you are in contact with your customers via whatever medium, be sincere and lead with your authentic and helpful manner. And always answer questions honestly, even if it means giving an answer that is not what the customer wants to hear.
6. Look after your followers
Always nurture dialogue with your followers to keep them active and engaged. By using the benefits of social media you can easily let them get you to know you through personal interaction, bios, videos and behind-the-scenes coverage. Provide value and the benefit of your expertise and experience for free. By positioning yourself as an authority in your industry you will further show your authenticity.
7. What you should share
Both you and your business are unique, and how much you are willing to share contributes to building your authenticity. It’s important to ensure that your marketing is valuable, informative and high quality. Content with little value will do little to enhance your reputation, and may actually have a negative effect. That said, don’t feel the need to share more than you are comfortable with and remember there’s no need to give away your ‘secret sauce!’
Creating authenticity is not an instant thing. But putting in the work will pay huge dividends in the long run. The following checklist gives an overview of points that can be easily put into place and start the ball rolling on your road to building an authentic business.
– Share why you’re passionate about why you do what you do (it’s not about making money)
– Always share your mission with enthusiasm and passion
– Share value-based advice and insight where appropriate
– Only make promises you can keep
– Always be on hand to help or offer assistance
– Be consistent and keep your core message uniform both online and offline
– Actively engage with your followers on your social media channels and always respond
– Get to know your audience and share with them content with value
– Tailor content on social media to suit the different audiences
Perhaps the most amazing thing to all this is that true authenticity comes with a real sense of freedom. Being true to yourself and your business and being honest with your clients relieve anxiety. There is no pretence or a need to keep up a facade. This sense of liberation will have a huge impact on your business and will shine through to your customers.
An open and trustworthy business is a popular business. Make the change now and build your authenticity.